Over the last year of talking to customers, i have realized that many perceive their skin as sensitive and it’s an increasing concern. However i believe a lot of people, like myself in the past, don't realize that there's actually a difference between Sensitive Skin and Sensitized Skin. Many people often mistake Skin Type and Skin Concern.
There are 4 basic types of healthy skin: normal, dry, oily and sensitive skin. Skin type is determined by genetics, meaning you are born with it and it doesn't really change over time. On the other hand the condition of our skin can, it will vary greatly according to the various internal and external factors it is subjected to. External factors on the other hand are generally the things you are exposed to daily like: your diet, your skincare routine, climate and etc. Internal factors could include things like: hormones, stress levels, and the natural aging process.
To give your skin the best possible care, it’s important that you understand the difference between skin types and skin conditions. In this post i am going to share a little more about Sensitive Skin Type V.S Sensitized Skin Condition.
ABOUT SENSITIVE SKIN
A true sensitive skin is caused by a genetic predisposition and is a skin type. If your parents have sensitive skin then you may as well. Someone born with a true sensitive skin may be prone to allergies, asthma and facial blushing. This skin type is considered to be more delicate in general, often lower in pigment (fair skin) but also a thinner epidermis which means the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin, hence the appearance of redness. The main reason why adverse skin reactions occur is a defect in the skin's protective outer layer called the epidermal lipid barrier. This barrier isn't as protective as it should be allowing irritants, bacteria, and allergens to penetrate the skin a lot easier. This barrier is also important when it comes to inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
SYMPTOMS OF SENSITIVE SKIN:
+ Red and/or dry patches, a dry skin type or chapped skin
+ Certain foods make you flush - alcohol, coffee or spicy foods.
+ Tight, itchy or burning skin
+ Tendency to sunburn easily
+ Easily irritated by soaps, laundry detergent, perfume etc.
Because this is a Skin Type you are born with, the products you use have to be as gentle as possible to avoid possible irritation.
If you have a Sensitive Skin Type, here are some ingredients you should stay away from:
- Simple alcohols - ethanol, denature, methanol, benzyl, isopropyl, and SD
- Synthetic fragrance (#1 cause of contact dermatitis)
- Synthetic dyes and colorants
- Sulfates - found in anything that suds such as cleansers, toothpaste, body wash etc.
- Propylene glycol - found in moisturizers, baby products, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant
- AHA and retinoids
Now we move on to Sensitized or Reactive Skin, which is a result of environment, lifestyle, harsh skin care products and what is going on inside the body. Other factors include smoking, alcohol, poor diet, hormonal fluctuations and some medications like antibiotics and blood thinners.
From my experience, I have found the biggest contributor to sensitized skin are topical skin care products, overly exfoliating and particular ingredients. I am basically a human guinea pig for Fickle Beauty! Haha. So yes, i definitely went through many ups and downs with my skin! Thankfully, sensitized skin is totally treatable and preventable. Obviously, the first step is to take a look at your skin care products and lifestyle and eliminate those triggers.
I was born with Normal Skin, growing up, i never experienced much issues with my skin and it was relatively easy to look after. In fact, i didnt care much for skincare. However as i grew older, i got more vain and started applying make up and not knowing the importance of cleansing thoroughly. Being a blogger, i also had the opportunity to review skincare products from many brands! I applied anything and everything without having much knowledge about the ingredients in it. Slowly, i damaged my moisture barrier over the years of product testing, and ruined my skin. Now i have Sensitized, Reactive Skin that gets irritated very easily.
What are some causes of Sensitized Skin?
- Harsh physical exfoliants - walnut shells, crushed nuts or pits of fruits, even coffee and ar can be too much for most skin types.
- Acne Fighting Products - acne products contain benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid and often too many types of product that contain these ingredients all at once can result in sensitized skin. Hence, always go with the lowest percentage and apply it sparingly, as a spot treatment or as a wash off 10 min mask
- Simple Alcohols - ethanol, denature, methanol, benzyl, isopropyl, and SD
- Synthetic Fragrance
- Synthetic Dyes and Colorants
- Chemical Exfoliants (AHA and Retinoids) - If used correctly on healthy skin they are very effective! However if you do not introduce it slowly, you will irritate your skin.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN OR SENSITIZED SKIN?
SYMPTOMS OF SENSITIVE SKIN:
- Red and/or dry patches, a dry skin type or chapped skin
- Certain foods make you flush - alcohol, coffee or spicy foods.
- Tight, itchy or burning skin
- Tendency to sunburn easily
- Easily irritated by soaps, laundry detergent, perfume etc.
SYMPTOMS OF SENSITIZED SKIN:
- Rashy appearance to skin, small bumps that aren't quite acne
- Redness and broken capillaries
- A "sunburn" sensation
- Tightness after washing face
- Weather or travel can trigger sensitized skin
HOW TO TREAT SENSITIVE SKIN
Start looking at the ingredients in your skincare products! There are tons of wonderful sensitive skin products on the market that have non-irritating ingredients. Here at Fickle Beauty, we have a huge range of products carefully selected for All Skin Types, including those with Sensitive/Sensitized Skin.
When trying a new product, perform a test patch before you slather it all over your face or body is a great idea. For facial products apply a small amount of your new product behind your ear since it's similar skin to the face and hidden if you do have a reaction. For body products apply to your wrist or forearm.
When you start being a lot more careful with what you apply on your skin, you shouldnt have much of an issue with irritated skin.
HOW TO TREAT SENSITIZED SKIN
Sensitized skin is totally treatable and preventable. Obviously, the first step is to take a look at your skin care products and lifestyle and eliminate those triggers.
People who have tons of different products or use too many active ingredients all at once usually face Sensitized Skin at one point of time. Learn from it, pick one active product at a time: retinoids, AHA, prescription acne products, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Introduce actives SLOWLY. Perform a test patch before you slather it all over your face or body is a great idea. For facial products apply a small amount of your new product behind your ear since it's similar skin to the face and hidden if you do have a reaction. I personally also would avoid beauty subscription boxes as it's great to discover new products and get that pretty package at your door every month, but if your skin is sensitized switching and trying new things all the time won't be doing your skin any favors.
Take a skin care break when your skin is sensitized. Stop using any mechanical skin brushes and skip exfoliation for 2-4 weeks. Focus on HYDRATION and nothing more! I recommend using a Low PH Gentle Cleanser, a Hydrating Toner/Essence with ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Snail Mucin and a good Moisturizer with calming ingredients like Centella Asiatica or barrier building ingredients like Ceramides. Also, do not forget sunscreen! Pick something which is a mineral sunscreen. Although it is not my first choice sunscreen as i personally love the light finish of Chemical Sunscreens, i do advice to pick a Mineral Sunscreen if you are unsure how your skin will react to the ingredients in Chemical Sunscreen.
That's it! You can then start adding in products and see how your skin feels. Sometimes less is more!